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Hands-on Gear Review
Pieps DSP Pro Review
Cons: Battery life is only displayed in thirds and not a percentage.
Number of Antennae: 3
Manufacturer's Range: 60m
The Pieps DSP Pro is one of the more advanced models in our review at a very competitive price. It has similar features, feature options, range, and processor speed as most of the other contenders. It was nearly one of our OutdoorGearLab's Top Picks but was just barely edged out by the Mammut Barryvox S and the Ortovox S1+ in our scoring, but the DSP Pro remains one of our favorites overall. We also think it is nearly as good as either of those but is $70-$80 less and if we had a Best Value award for a professional level beacon this would be it.
The Pieps DSP Pro is a big overhaul from its older version the classic neon yellow Pieps DSP. Some of the improvements of the DSP Sport include longer range, improved flagging function, a noticeably faster possessor, better battery life that was almost 100 hrs. more than any other product we tested and amazingly $75 less. As a whole we think that nearly all of the upgrades Black Diamond (Owner of Pieps) made were big improvements and anyone who has been a big fan of Pieps in the past will be pleased with this newer version.
RELATED REVIEW: The Best Avalanche Beacon Review
Our Analysis and Hands-on Test Results
The Pieps DSP Pro had one of the longer maximum ranges in our review, having approximately 6-10 meters of range on the older Pieps DSP and 3-6 more meters on the DSP Sport. It didn't have quite as much range as our OutdoorGearLab Editors' Choice the Mammut Barryvox S, but it was close. Its range was close but just a little better than our other OutdoorGearLab Top Pick the Ortovox S1+.
Ease of Finding a Single Victim
The interface is well labeled and easy to use. The DSP Pro has five directional arrows that will help you stay on the flux-line. The DSP Pro also has one of the fastest processors of any of the products we tested, allowing us to move more quickly than with most. The only model that we though had a marginally faster processor during single victim real world testing was the BCA Tracker 2.
Ease of Use in Fine Search
We define fine search five meters before bracketing. The fine search is where the difference in processing speed is the most apparent and the Pieps DSP Pro's processor speed shines here. It has a quick and easy to understand. One feature that the Pieps DSP Pro had that several other higher-end models had is a feature that told you to turn around if you weren't paying close enough attention to the numbers.
Ease Of Use In Multiple Burial Situations
The Pieps DSP Pro was among our top performers for multiple burial situations.
Another new feature of both Pieps products is that you can "unmark" the last buried beacon that was marked by pressing and holding the mark button for three seconds.
Smart Transmitter Technology
The Pieps DSP Pro, has Pieps' Smart Transmitter Technology. The tech kicks in if two minutes pass and the beacon doesn't move. At this point, it thinks it's buried and searches for other buried beacons within 5 to 6 meters. If it discovers one, it adjusts its transmission to minimize signal overlap.
Unlike the old yellow Pieps DSP, the new Pieps DSP Pro can be set up to automatically switch back from searching to sending in the event you are caught in a second avalanche while searching for someone else. Unlike a lot of other models this feature can only be set up at home via connecting the beacon with a data cable that plugs into the beacons head phone jack. This feature is slightly controversial and some manufacturers including Pieps/Black Diamond don't recommend it because if you are caught in a second avalanche the beacon will likely be in your hands and the odds of you being able to hang onto it during a second avalanche are slim.
Like the old yellow Pieps DSP the Pieps DSP Pro can measure frequency drift of other beacons. The users simply presses the scan button for three seconds to engage this feature. Once you stop pressing this button it turns off the frequency tester.
The Pieps DSP Pro also features a inclinometer.
The DSP Pro has a battery rating of 400 hours of use while in send mode more than 100 hrs. more than any other we tested and twice as much as the similarly designed DSP Sport. The remaining battery life is displayed in thirds unlike most beacons which display a percentage, this is one of the few things we hope that Black Diamond/Pieps change because we like the percentage better.
Pressing both the flag and scan buttons for three seconds while searching tells the Pro to search for a Pieps TX600 Dog Transmitter.
Comfort to Carry
We thought the Pieps DSP Pro came with an above average harness carrying system that was very comfortable and relatively easy to use. Its thickness makes it less comfortable to carry in a pocket. For this, it's similar to the Ortovox S1+ and the Mammut Barryvox Pulse (now replaced by the Mammut Barryvox S).
The Pieps DSP Pro is the best value among the nicer models. It has almost all the same features as the Ortovox S1+ and the Mammut Pulse Barryvox but is $70 to$80 less than all of them. The Pieps DSP Pro is a little more expensive than many of the more basic models like the BCA Tracker 2, the Ortovox Zoom+, the Ortovox 3+ and the Mammut Element Barrybox which all run closer to $300 but the Pro has a bunch more features. If you like the Peips DSP Pro but not sure if you want to spend the money check out our OutdoorGearLab Best Buy award winner the DSP Sport, which at $320 is as good or better than most of the products in the $250-$350 range.
The Pieps DSP Sport versus the Pieps DSP Pro
The Pieps DSP Pro is $100 more expensive but has a lot more features than the Sport. Is it worth the difference? Depends on the user. We think that a majority of backcountry users won't actually use most of the features of the Pro and would be just fine with the Sport. Some of the differences between the two are battery life with the DSP Pro (400 hours) having twice as much battery life as the Sport(200 hours). The Pro also has around 5-7 more meters of range, with the Sport checking in close to 50m and the Pro clocking in just below 60 meters of maximum range. The Sport also doesn't have either the range finder feature or the frequency drift checking feature (both detailed above). They both have a very quick processor and one of our favorite flagging features for multiple burials.
The Pieps DSP Pro is a more complex product that is best appreciated by guides and trip leaders. It has a lot of features that many backcountry enthusiasts will never use. For folks that like the Pieps overall layout but aren't sure they need all the additional features check out the Pieps DSP Sport.
One of the few things we didn't like is the toggle switch featured on the DSP Pro that allows the user to switch between search mode, send mode and off. We thought it is more difficult to use with thicker gloves or mittens on, however with thin gloves or bare handed it wasn't a big deal. The other features that we discussed were how it is feels thicker and is less comfortable to carry in our pocket than the older DSP.
The Pieps DSP Pro is one of the best overall avalanche beacons on the market and is very comparable to the other top beacons the Ortovox S1+ and the Mammut Barryvox Pulse but is less expensive. We think at least half of backcountry users don't need and will almost never use a lot of the additional features of the DSP Pro and should consider the Sport.
— Ian Nicholson
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